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As a manager, you have certain responsibilities, one of which might be to lead a group of sales people through a marketing or sales seminar. These sales folks may come from several different districts or may not know one another well. Your goal, along with introducing the company’s latest products and incentives, is to open the avenues for brainstorming. That might prove difficult with a group of a hundred apprehensive people who don’t know the person next to them no more than they know their college professor’s birthday. It’s up to you to break the ice. A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and founder of EmploymentCrossing.com offers these tips for energizing your crowd:

One sure fire way to break the proverbial ice, says Barnes, is to tell them in your opening remarks that you’re aware they don’t know one another well, but that they’re here because of the company’s faith in them and that you’re sure by the time the seminar wraps up, not only will they know each other better, but that you also predict a dynamic group that has a lot to offer by the end of the day (or week or weekend) as a team.
Suggest they break off into teams of 2, 3 or more people for quick brainstorming sessions. Allow them to choose those they partner with and let the creative energy flow says the EmploymentCrossing.com founder. Never underestimate the power when creative minds come together.

Make it a challenge for your group by offering a nice incentive, says A. Harrison Barnes. “Offer to take the winning team to lunch next week or have your public relation’s team make several gift packages with coupons for free dinners in their regions, promotional products such as ball caps, coffee tumblers and golf balls and if you’re involved with the community and with other business owners, that’s a good time to toss in a free oil change from one of the businesses in your area”.
Get the creativity started by going over some of the thoughts upper management had tossed around in the past and see what kind of new and energized ideas come from your group.

Always ask for their feedback. You want to gather information to take back to home office, right? That fact gathering exercise should include more than just their ideas on how to grow the business. You want to know what’s already working and more importantly, what’s not working. Give your sales team a voice and then sit back and listen. You might be amazed at what you discover.

Finally, reiterate to each of the attendees that you have an open door policy and are always ready to hear anything they have to say. Fostering a relationship with your sales team is important; after all, they’re the ones who are talking to the clients on a daily basis and they’re the ones who know, even better than the president, a winning combination when they see one.

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